CHATHAM, NJ - Chatham junior pitcher Melissa Landry says that all she thinks about in the offseason is softball. This offseason was particularly long for Landry since she missed most of her sophomore season due to a serious injury.

“All I think about through the winter is softball season so getting here is so exciting,” Landry said.

Three games into her sophomore season, Landry was struck in the face by a batted ball after delivering a pitch. She required surgery for her injuries and had to sit out most of season, returning in the state tournament to pitch a 1-hitter against Roxbury in the state sectional quarterfinals.

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She now wears a protective mask while pitching. Landry couldn’t wait to get back on the mound for her junior year, and she has been on her game from the start.

“I didn’t get to pitch much last season so I am trying to regroup, make my mark this season, and make up for lost time,” Landry said.

She also uses the injury as a huge motivator.

“I didn’t get to play last season and that’s so sad,” Landry said. “My entire season stripped away in the third game. Now I’m back and it’s so motivating thinking that it’s my time.”

Landry and the Lady Cougars have gotten off to a torrid start this year behind first year coach Brian Figueiredo, winning nine of their first 11 games.

Landry's latest gem was a 2-hit, 9-strikeout 3-0 shutout of Mount Olive, ranked No. 15 by, on Monday. She did not walk a batter in allowing two singles.

Melissa Landry is the TAP into Chatham Athlete of the Week.

“She has been fantastic to coach, from day one, before we even started the season,” Figueiredo said. “I always love kids that are about the team and that’s what she is. Good or bad out there on the field she is unflappable no matter what, and when you have that mentality as a pitcher, you are going to be successful."

Figueiredo also says that he sees leadership qualities in Landry, something that has been a major contributor to her success.

“When you’re the pitcher you’re a natural leader,” Figueiredo said. “People feed off of you whether you want them to or not. The pitcher sets the tone for everything and she has done that and won us some big games. The team feels very confident with her on the mound.”

Landry has been the starting pitcher for seven of Chatham’s first 10 games, compiling a 5-2 record. Landry threw three straight shutouts in her first three games, including a one hitter versus Mendham on April 6. 

Landry has also been racking up the strikeouts, compiling 49 so far in 54 innings.

“I feel really good about this team, everyone has been playing well, and everyone is contributing,” Landry said. “The bottom of the lineup has been hitting great and the top of the lineup has been hitting great too. Our defense has also been doing everything that they need to”

Having a great defense behind her has been a huge factor to Landry’s success. Especially defense up the middle behind her, led by sophomore shortstop Camryn Davies and junior second baseman Bonnie Kennedy.

“Having such a good defense allows you to just go out and pitch,” Landry said. “I am confident in whoever is behind me and I know that they can all field the ball well.”